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Iran OKs New Intelligence Minister

February 24, 1999

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ The Iranian Parliament today gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to a new intelligence minister whose predecessor quit following disclosures that rogue agents in his ministry killed five Iranian dissidents and intellectuals.

Of the 224 deputies present in the 270-seat Majlis, or parliament, 197 voted in favor of Ali Yunesi, a middle-ranking cleric who was one of the founders of the Intelligence Ministry after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There were nine opposing votes and 18 abstentions. Yunesi needed more than half the votes to win.

``We ask God that Mr. Yunesi will be able to manage this important and sensitive ministry with his capable colleagues,″ Majlis Speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri said after the vote.

Yunesi, who led the investigation into the dissidents’ killings, told the Majlis that ``the most important duty of the intelligence network is to provide security for citizens. I mean security for all.″

Yunesi conducted the investigations as a military prosecutor into the killings of writers and dissidents that began in November.

Later, Yunesi said 10 people, including three Intelligence Ministry officials, had been arrested and 30 questioned in connection with the killings, the state-run radio reported.

It said Yunesi rejected suggestions that Israel was involved in the killings.

The involvement of ministry officials was first reported by the ministry itself on Jan. 5.

The revelation, which intensified a long-simmering power struggle between moderate and hard-line factions in the government, led to the resignation of Intelligence Minister Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi more than a week ago.

Under Dorri-Najafabadi, the Intelligence Ministry was largely under the control of hard-line opponents of the reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

But with Yunesi in charge, Khatami has greater sway over the workings of the ministry. Both Yunesi and Khatami have promised to reform the secretive ministry, which until now has answered to the hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Yunesi, 45, has held several senior positions, including prosecutor general of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

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